Killzone isn’t “beautiful”: OXCGN’s Gamer Debate
Beauty or a beast?
©2011 David Hilton – ©2011 Nicholas Laborde
We’ve had the ‘is Killzone 3 a game 360 owners would want to steal” discussion, but now we debate if the Killzone games can be considered truly ‘beautiful’ in the true sense of the word.
Can you see both sides?
So, let’s get started shall we….
I know this will be controversial, but for the most part I wouldn’t characterise the last two Killzone’s visuals as beautiful. Polished, yes. Good games? Sure. But beautiful, using the truest sense of the word? No.
I see and hear words like ‘beautiful’ or ‘gorgeous’ in reviews but to me it looks like yet more empty destroyed non-descript buildings. How you can call that sort of post-apocalyptic environment ‘beautiful’ is beyond me. It fits the game, but isn’t attractive.
I define “beautiful” by how realistic or stylized the overall visuals are. I find Battlefield 3 beautiful, but I also find Okami beautiful. Battlefield 3 looks nearly photo-realistic and as a result made my draw drop a little bit. It also manages to capture what Middle Eastern locations look like.
Generally, though, beautiful is used by people to describe the realism. The senses are overwhelmed by how realistic things look when these games break a visual standard and there’s no other word to describe it, although the images displayed may not be aesthetically beautiful.
A good definition that I would use for beautiful is “very pleasing to the eye”. So I would argue that attractive aesthetics are important.
While many are pleased with the level of detail and atmosphere created visually in games like Killzone, I would only use the term ‘beautiful’ for environments in games like Uncharted 2, Flower, Bioshock or Assassin’s Creed.
If you went to a real life destroyed environment like you find in a game like Killzone 3 would you really describe it as beautiful? Compared, say, to a city like Paris? Or the Rockies?
But for shooters if it looks realistic we call it beautiful, even if architecturally simple, destroyed, concrete-looking and/or dull.
Oh, of course. I don’t find those locations very beautiful at all in reality. As I said, photorealism “implies” beauty to the modern person. Even if we’re looking at a violent, war-torn Middle Eastern landscape, but it looks nearly photo-realistic, it’s pleasing to look at.
But if we look at actual pictures, it’s not interesting at all. We just tend to be more concerned with the eye candy in general; for example, when I was watching the Battlefield 3 gameplay trailer, I was focusing a lot on how detailed, smooth and realistic the animations were.
The middle eastern aspect didn’t appeal to my senses that much, although they did a good job of making it feel like a city, not just generic brown and bloom desert block city #46.
The same goes for locations in the Killzone series. The locations themselves? I would NEVER want to visit horrible places like those! But they are extremely pleasing to look at due to their photorealistic nature.
I can prove this even further: I replayed Killzone 2 many times. Why? Because it just looked so visually gorgeous. I wasn’t replaying it for the vastly unique gameplay or the innovative story; I was playing it to gander at it.
Whereas I got bored eventually in Killzone 2 because the environments I was playing through, though graphically impressive for what they depicted, were samey and uninspiring. And that is the distinction I am probably making.
Game graphics can be impressive as polished game visuals, with smooth animations, and neato smoke, bomb, and light effects, but they aren’t the same as attractive locations to explore or play in.
I too am blown away by what I’ve seen of Battlefield 3…it seems very close to photorealism. I also acknowledge that if you are playing a war game the environment needs to look like where a battle is taking place.
Which is why I’m a big fan of destructive environments vs. static ones. Preferably start with a gorgeously created location and then as the war occurs, watch it crumble.
That to me is more visually stunning because you have something truly beautiful transform through the destructive process of war into something that is not. The visuals actually contribute to the story in an interesting, even symbolic, way.
• Some great , ‘perhaps beautiful’ screenshots…
However, start with something already destroyed and it simply isn’t an attractive environment, even if it is appropriate to the game. Certainly not ‘beautiful’ no matter what the lighting is or the number of monochrome pixels.
As shooters aim for more realism they are often forced to choose locations that are known as warzones and therefore are stuck with that environment as a starting point.
Whereas a game like, say James Bond or Uncharted, can go to exotic looking, truly beautiful locations which are more than just fancy graphics, but genuinly enjoyable places to explore.
That’s why Red Dead Redemption, Assassin’s Creed (where you can even enhance some environments by upgrading) and the like will always seem more ‘visually stunning’ despite some imperfections than a game like Killzone to me.
Where I play is as important to me as what I play.
I agree with your points, and location does in fact mean a lot in terms of gameplay.
But suppose that you’re in a setting similar to The Saboteur. The entire game was black and white until you progressed to a certain point, but became colorful at said stage.
It’s set in beautiful France, but most of the game is spent in the dark black setting; there are a ton of side missions and exploration possibilities, but they’re in the black and white.
What do you think about that?
Well, the Saboteur is actually a good example, so I’m glad you brought it up. By the way I think it was a highly underrated title. Yes it is set somewhere beautiful (Paris and some pretty good towns around it) but yes it is mostly in black and white. From a style point of view this was a cool idea, but it does get tiring and you’d just like to see everywhere shine in the beautiful sunlight.
The game is not a graphical technical marvel, there is very poor draw distance, standard cut and paste vegetation, and more, but I love exploring it anyway. Yes the Killzones (except the terrible first one) have ‘better’ graphics and show more ‘technical expertise’.
But for attractiveness of scenery and for attracting my instinct for exploration…well I’d rather drive around Paris and outside to the towns (in the sun) more than I’d want to spend a lot of time admiring the apocalyptic destruction and odd snow level in Killzone 3.
And yes I’m much more gushy about Uncharted 2‘s footprints in the snow and beautiful vistas (I can’t think of any that are better), than the realistic animations and graphic explosions of Killzone.
Killzone is about action and killing enemies in a war. Fair enough. But that environment is not ‘beautiful’, it is realistically functional.
By the way, I hear people gush (excuse the pun) about spectacular blood spray and decapitation animations…and never really get it. Really? That might be ‘wow’ or violent- but visually stunning?
While “beautiful” is universally agreeable (not entirely, of course), “realistic” is extremely different, and does not fall within the same purview.
And, with that being said, David, I believe we can go no further with this.
Okay I’ll conclude with this: for me the differences between our perspectives can be summed up with the way we view beautiful as either applying to game graphics or visuals in terms of environment and location.
The question comes down to: Is a ‘beautiful’ game one with great graphics, or reserved to one with attractive environements and scenery as well?
Each gamer can answer that in their own way.
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©2011 David Hilton – ©2011 Nicholas Laborde
• Screenshot gallery
Filed under: Blogbanter, Console gaming, Editorial, Game Impressions, GameBanter, Gamer's Debate, Oxcgn Special feature Tagged: | Assassin's creed, Assassin's Creed 2, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Battlefield, Battlefield 3, Bioshock, Flower, Helghast, James Bond, Killzone, Killzone 2, Killzone 3, Middle East, Red Dead: Redemption, Saboteur, Uncharted, Uncharted 2, Video game